'Freedom' means More than the Government Leaving You Alone

What are we to make of Stu Lindberg's letter "Socialism is tyranny?" There are quite a few generalizations about freedom and liberty and Socialism, all at a level of abstraction that makes it hard to know what he's getting at, other than that the Soviet Union was a very bad country that severely abused its people. I certainly agree with that. But the rest .

If "freedom" means only that the government leaves you alone, which seems to be Mr. Lindberg's definition, then you are, somehow, "free" when you sit in a hovel shared with 10 other people, too sick to do anything but wait for death. You are somehow "free" to accept an employer's offer of 15 cents an hour for a 60 hour week or go down the street to find another employer who offers 15 cents an hour for a 60 hour week. It's a definition of freedom that ignores most of the realities of life. It's a definition of freedom that, as Thomas Frank noted," helps conservatives pass off a patently pro-business political agenda as a noble bid for human freedom . a doctrine that owes its visibility to the obvious charms it holds for the wealthy and the powerful.


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Mr. Lindberg seems to equate Socialism with the totalitarian regimes, like the Soviet Union, that crushed individual freedoms in the name of the state. That is not the form of Socialism that reigns in many European countries, nor the form that Bernie Sanders advocates. As Sanders has explained more times than should ever have been necessary, he believes in "democratic socialism" in which governments are democratically elected and, by approval of the majority, enact enough regulations to keep business interests from steamrolling the very "individuals" that Mr. Lindberg cares about.

Lee Russ

Bennington

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